New Establishment Coming To Former Molly Brannigans Bar/restarurant In Downtown Scranton

May 24, 2019

SCRANTON — Game on. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Frogger will once again gobble dots, hurl barrels and jaywalk in Scranton. A new restaurant and bar with 50 vintage video arcade games from the ’80s will open soon in the former Molly Brannigans pub downtown. It’s a venture by John Heim Jr., 61, who owns A.J. Guzzi General Contractors of South Abington Twp., and his son, John Heim III, 37, an attorney. The new establishment will be called Bartari, a mashup of the words bar and Atari, the pioneering video game brand name. With renovation of the long-vacant pub at Lackawanna and Adams avenues underway, the father/son duo hope to open their new business in August. John Heim Jr. recalled decades ago putting a used video arcade game — he doesn’t recall which one — in his basement for his kids to play. In time, they tired of it and it gathered dust. At some point in the ’90s, he gave the machine away. “Most people threw these things away,” John Heim Jr. said. Now, his son scours Craigslist and Facebook for the iconic, old-school machine games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Centipede, Galaga, Tron and Q*Bert. Most of what they find are idle relics in homes. “Most people had them in their basements and hadn’t played them in years,” John Heim Jr. said. The Heims have found about 40 so far in several states and are looking for more. The son dispatches his dad to pick them up throughout Pennsylvania and to Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The cost to buy a vintage machine varies greatly depending on its condition and operability, John Heim Jr. said. The cost to play a vintage video game at Bartari will be whatever the cost was when the coin-operated machines were built — one or two quarters, he said. The menu will feature upscale bar food. “We’re trying to keep the costs reasonable, but be different,” John Heim Jr. said. Their goal is to offer inexpensive dinners and games and a nice place to socialize, he said. The hours have not been finalized. At first, the establishment will be open for dinner hours, and they hope to eventually add lunch hours. “My son’s an attorney and I’m a construction worker, and we’re learning the restaurant business,” John Heim Jr. said. They also own downtown buildings at 406 and 408 Spruce St. that have storefronts on the first floors and apartments on the upper floors. Vacant since 2009, the former Molly Brannigans spot has 7,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the Casey parking garage, owned by the Scranton Parking Authority. The Heims have entered into a three-year lease for the Molly Brannigans space with the outside operators of the garage. David Trevisani, a director with the nonprofit National Development Council that took over the city’s parking system three years ago, said the large size of the Brannigans space likely was a main reason it remained vacant for so long. The interior configuration within a parking garage precludes a division of the space, he said. The 2008 recession and aftermath also likely didn’t help matters in filling the vacancy, he said. The overall economic recovery and recent downtown renaissance have improved the climate for entrepreneurial activity, Trevisani and John Heim Jr. agreed. “There has been some uptick in the downtown. Things go in cycles. Right now, there’s some investment downtown and some new residents,” Trevisani said. “I think it’s just a matter of it’s different time now.” Contact the writer: jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter

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